Harold Joe Waldrum

by FO
Photo credit: Charles Rushton

Photo credit: Charles Rushton

Harold Joe Waldrum (1934 – 2003)

Harold Joe Waldrum embodied a colorful life that was manifest in his work. In the 1950’s and 60’s, Waldrum lived in the academic world as student and teacher, focusing on art and band. For a brief period, he lived and painted in New York where he was influenced by the abstract expressionists. Following his move to New Mexico in the 70’s, he developed the work for which he is best known.

The clarity of the southwestern light and dramatic adobe architecture became the foundation for his series of windows and walls. Inspired by the historic adobe churches and moradas, Waldrum captured the essence of their timeless form primarily in acrylic painting. He used a Polaroid SX-70 camera to document shapes and shadows as reference material for his paintings. These prints later became their own works of art.

During the1980’s, Waldrum experienced an expansive and creative period in his career. Working in the historical studio of Joseph Sharp in Taos, he continued to develop strong architectural forms, base on regional adobe churches. In addition to these color-saturated paintings, he began producing aquatints and linocuts of the same classic subject matter. Waldrum developed not only a visual relationship with the churches but established the El Valle Foundation in effort to preserve some of the buildings that inspired his paintings.

In 1989, Waldrum sought solitude and moved south to a remote mountain ranch between Albuquerque and Socorro where he felt most at home. This off the grid lifestyle included raising mules, horses and cows along with writing his first self-published book, Ando en Cueros. He remained on the ranch for 9 years until his final move further south to Truth or Consequences.

For 54 years, the powerful imagery of Harold Joe Waldrum has left its imprint in museums, galleries and collections throughout the country. The question has been raised as to whether or not he was an abstractionist or realist, a minimalist or maximalist, a traditionalist or radical. Remarkably, the artist and his technique embraced all.


Harold Joe Waldrum’s web site: haroldjoewaldrum.com

Primrose Light
acrylic / linen
72″ x 72″
circa 1982
El campanario arriba de la morada de Jesus de Nazareno de Chacon
acrylic / linen
54.25″ x 54.125″ x 1.375″
acrylic / linen
48″ x 50″
circa 1979
La morada de Don Fernando de Taos en la noche
aquatint etching
ed. 47
17″ x 17″
La Luz
aquatint etching
ed. 15
15″ x 15″
Sabado de gloria en Las Trampas
aquatint etching
ed. 63
17″ x 17″
circa 1999
Ocaso del sol en estio
ed. 71
24″ x 24″
circa 1986-87